Super rich are $300 billion lighter

The financial crisis cut the net worth of the nation's 400 most wealthy individuals to $1.27 trillion this year, according to published list.

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By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

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NEW YORK ( -- The recession has taken its toll on the nation's super rich, whose collective net worth fell for only the fifth time in 28 years, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The collective worth of the 400 richest people fell by $300 billion, or 19%, to $1.27 trillion, according to the survey released by Forbes magazine.

As a result, the price of admission to appear on the list this year dropped to $950 million from $1.3 billion in the 2008 list.

The losses were driven by turmoil in the capital markets and plunging real estate values, according to the magazine. but fraud and divorce also took a toll.

The number of members who experienced year-over-year declines was more than double the number in 2008, with 314 of this year's list members declining in wealth compared to 126 last year.

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500)'s Bill Gates, with assets worth $50 billion, topped the list of richest Americans. That's despite a $7 billion hit. Investor Warren Buffett came in second, with assets totaling $40 billion, after a $10 billion loss this year.

Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) founder Lawrence Ellison was the only top ten member to avoid major losses. Ellison, who was third overall, saw his net worth remain unchanged at $27 billion.

Among the 32 members who were booted off the list this year was disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford, who is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme.

Omid Kordestani, who made billions working for Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), was forced off the list because of his divorce, according to Forbes.

However, the lower threshold resulted in the addition of 19 new members.

Among the newbies is Jeffry Picower, who the magazine describes as "a longtime investor with Bernard Madoff who is alleged to have extracted billions of dollars from Madoff's fund before it collapsed."

This year only 28 members added to their wealth, including banker Andrew Beal, who tripled his net worth to $4.5 billion buying cheap loans and assets.  To top of page

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